It was pretty much a given that the Pittsburgh Steelers would open up day three of the 2013 NFL Draft by targeting a safety and they not only did that, but moved up to do so.
The Steelers traded next year’s third round pick to the Cleveland Browns to jump into the No. 111 pick where they selected Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas.
Thomas has first or second round talent, but his size dropped him down a few rounds, along with a history of concussions.
Despite that, the Steelers get themselves a player in the fourth round, one that not only adds depth now, but could step in and play a major role in the Steelers defense in the future.
Thomas returned to Syracuse in 2012 for his senior season and it paid off for him.
He started 15 games over his first two seasons and was moved all over the defense, seeing time at linebacker and cornerback before setting in at strong safety in 2011. There, he finished third on the team with 67 tackles, adding three tackles for loss.
Thomas started all 13 games at safety in 2012, finishing as the Orange’s top tackler with 88 stops. He also led the team with three forced fumbles and two interceptions, earning First Team All-Big East accolades from the media and coaches, alike.
He’s a very aggressive defender who can prove to be a nuisance around the line of scrimmage. Thomas plays the game with reckless abandon and loves to throw his body around on the field, seeking big hits against ball carriers. He has excellent closing speed, good lateral agility and great speed in coverage. Thomas was timed at 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash during Syracuse’s junior timing day.
If you are looking for a comparison for Thomas, think former Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders.
While Thomas is obviously shorter than scouts would like, he is a proven playmaker whose instincts and physicality help overcome his lack of size.
The third-round pick is a big price to pay, but looking ahead; the Steelers will be getting a compensatory pick next year for losing Mike Wallace in free agency.
The bottom line is that while the Steelers paid a big price of a third round pick, they needed a safety and got the best one on the board in the fourth round.
Thomas is a guy Steelers’ fans should like a lot.
He’s a typical Steelers’ safety and could turn out to be a steal in the fourth round.